Cape Town – In the new television hit American Gods, Shadow Moon is a man walking among the gods. He doesn't know this for sure and he's finding everything that's happening to him hard to believe.
Adapted from the popular Neil Gaiman novel there's a war brewing between the old and new gods and Shadow Moon, an ex convict, finds himself at the centre of it.
While watching the series I wonder what is going through this character's mind when illogical things start happening to him?
I got the opportunity to ask Ricky Whittle aka Shadow Moon just that during a recent telephone interview.
"When Shadow left prison he lost everything – he was completely void and broken and this left him open to Mr Wednesday's manipulation."
He continues: "When all these fantastical things start happening to him he starts looking for a logical answer. He starts to wonder is he crazy or is the world crazy? Right now he genuinely has a WTF face."
Ricky says Shadow's struggle is that he is more cynic than believer and hopefully he believes sooner than later so that he can put his mind to rest.
Unlike Shadow, Ricky is a believer who is very open to magic. He believes in ghosts and ghouls and in anything until he is proven otherwise.
The magical aspect of the show and that Shadow is a good guy was what resonated most with Ricky when he signed on for the show.
"He's a morally good character who is ruled by his heart. All he wants to do is the right thing. As actors we have a great responsibility on TV not just to entertain but to inspire. And I think it’s important to get good characters out there."
A five month audition
For Ricky becoming Shadow was quite a process – in fact it was a five month long audition to be exact.
He first got wind of the show when his name was tagged in a global social media campaign run by Starz which asked fans who they thought would be suited for the role of Shadow.
Ricky thought the show would be perfect and then alerted his reps. And that's when the hard work started.
"It was a very intense process – I had 16 auditions. I did all types of scenes – happy, sad, angry. They had to make sure that they find the actor who was going to go through the highs and lows that Shadow is going to go through in the show," says Ricky.
All the hard work payed off and Ricky scooped the role from 1 200 other hopefuls.
Ricky's version of Shadow is very different from the book. Together with the showrunners Ricky worked on making Shadow more vocal and real.
"They wanted to add a bit of Ricky to Shadow to spice him up and bring him off the page and make him more watchable on screen. We were able to work together and give him a few more layers."
A physical transformation
For the role he also transformed physically, upped his calorie intake and exercised two to three hours a day.
Putting on the extra muscle mass helped Ricky get into character.
"I would try and act bigger and rougher with the extra muscle. Now I was big and I wasn't trying to act big. Because I had so much testosterone flowing through my body my voice also dropped. All of a sudden Shadow came out," explains Ricky.
As my interview draws to a close I ask Ricky how long it took him to learn Shadow's coin and card tricks.
"It took me about two months to learn. Two magicians in Toronto and California taught me all the card tricks and I learnt how to do the coin trick via YouTube."
He continues: "Shadow did it in prison for 3 years he used it as his escape and to keep his mind clear. I wanted to make sure it was fluid so I practiced that every day for two months."
The fans got it right, he is the perfect Shadow.
"I feel very blessed to have the backing of an incredible fan base. I am grateful to all the fans who pushed me forward and brought this project to my attention," says Ricky.
“American Gods is now available on Amazon Prime Video. Customers who are not already Amazon Prime Video members can sign up for a free 7-day trial at PrimeVideo.com.”
(Photos supplied by Amazon)